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Alan Brown seeks to overhaul council

Alan Brown

FORMER State Transport Minister Alan Brown is standing for Bass Coast Shire Council in a bid to replace the entire current council.
He dropped the bombshell last week, saying he was responding to repeated requests from ratepayers.
Mr Brown has gathered a group of greatly experienced high-profile people to nominate in each of the shire’s seven wards.
The main thrust is ensuring low rate rises, core business reform, protecting the environment and opposing coal seam gas exploration.
Mr Brown will be the group’s nominee for Hovell currently held by Cr John Duscher.
Should the team be elected, it’s likely Mr Brown will be mayor.
And if he is, he will have turned full circle in a stellar career that included nearly 19 years in State Parliament.
Part of that was as state leader of the Liberal party.
Mr Brown is appalled at the latest rate rise of 5.9 per cent which, he said, was four times the rate of inflation.
He cannot see the justification for increasing the shire’s initial 133 full-time equivalent employees of 16 years ago, to today’s 310, nor the “large number of staff costing well in excess of $100,000”.
The reformers promise a full review of the roles and functions of council, looking for efficiencies.
While this is underway, there will be a freeze on employing new senior executives and other staff positions costing in excess of $100,000.
Attendance at conferences, seminars and retreats will also be reviewed.
Mr Brown commended the “many excellent staff” working for the council and said he expected the majority of staff would see little change from the review.
He admitted news of his decision to nominate for the elections due in October, would “stun” observers from South Gippsland to Spring Street and beyond.
He believes he has a local reputation as a highly astute businessman and is a very strong supporter of small business. But he is not a developer and said his business background didn’t mean he or those on the ticket would be
pro-development.
“We all love where we live and we are all well aware of the need to protect our wonderful environment and our beaches.”
The rest of the group will be announced next week. Mr Brown said there are men and women and a range of ages.
Asked yesterday morning whether he’d heard about Mr Brown and his team, shire CEO Allan Bawden said “no”.
He said it would not be appropriate for him to comment, other than to say it is important people take an active interest in council and its elections.
“My job is to work with whoever the community elects.”
Mayor Cr Veronica Dowman said Mr Brown had spoken to her on Sunday. She told The Star, “Everyone is entitled to stand and it will be very interesting to see their policies.”
Mr Brown has vast experience.
He was elected to the former Borough of Wonthaggi more than 40 years ago, becoming mayor in his mid-20s. He remains the youngest councillor and mayor ever elected in the region.
While in his 20s, he established eight small businesses in Wonthaggi, some of which continue to trade.
Mr Brown will stand down immediately as chairman of the board of the Bass Coast Community Foundation, which addresses need and disadvantage in the shire. He has chaired the foundation for all of its 10 years.
A company which he chairs donated $1 million to start the foundation and continues to donate $500,000 each year.
Last year, he was inducted into the Australian Community Philanthropy’s hall of fame.
The son and grandson of Wonthaggi coal miners, Mr Brown is proud of his background.
His working life began in Wonthaggi as an apprentice carpenter and joiner. At 18, he was appointed to the committee of the Wonthaggi Police and Citizens Youth Club, thus beginning a 48-year record of community service.
This has ranged widely and includes the setting up of the Wonthaggi Group of Co-operative Housing Societies which he chaired for several years. He entered State Parliament aged 33, later becoming Transport Minister for four years, giving him oversight of a multi-billion dollar portfolio.
Mr Brown was Victoria’s Agent-General in London for three years, with responsibility for the state’s trade and investment in the United Kingdom and much of Europe.
He said his local support came to the fore during Wonthaggi’s centenary in 2010. The town’s citizens’ band, of which he is a life member, also turned 100 that year and Mr Brown raised a remarkable $100,000. The money is in a trust fund, with interest available for the band to buy new instruments and uniforms.
Mr Brown is also founding chairman of the Inner North Community Foundation, chairman of a community consultative committee making recommendations to finalise the Black Saturday Bushfire Appeal Fund, chairs Work and Training Ltd, Tasmania’s largest employer of young people and is patron of Korumburra’s Coal Creek Community Park and Museum and the Wonthaggi AP and H Society.
Apart from his posting in London, Mr Brown has lived locally all his life. He is married with four adult children.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=3706

Posted by on Jun 7 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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